Thursday, December 31, 2015

Auntie's Full Shelf Challenge 21

BookMorning By Morning.

Author: Charles Spurgeon

Info: Copyright 2000: Nashville:  Thomas Nelson Inc.

Where acquired: Thrift store find.

Rating (on a scale of 1-4 hashtags): # # # #

What it's about:  Written in the 1860's, Spurgeon, a Baptist minister, shares daily devotions and meditations on scripture. 

Favorite Quotes

"A part of the host will this year tarry on earth, to do service for their Lord. If this should fall to our lot, there is no reason why the New Year’s text should not still be true. "We who have believed do enter into rest." The Holy Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance; he gives us "glory begun below." In heaven they are secure, and so are we preserved in Christ Jesus;  there they triumph over their enemies, and we have victories too. Celestial spirits enjoy communion with their Lord, and this is not denied to us; they rest in his love, and we have perfect peace in him: they hymn his praise, and it is our privilege to bless him too. We will this year gather celestial fruits on earthly ground, where faith and hope have made the desert like the garden of the Lord. Man did eat angels’ food of old, and why not now? O for grace to feed on Jesus, and so to eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan this year!" pp. 1-2

"Tell me where you lost the company of Christ, and I will tell you the most likely place to find him. Have you lost Christ in the closet by restraining prayer? Then it is there you must seek and find him. Did you lose Christ by sin? You will find Christ in no other way but by the giving up of the sin, and seeking by the Holy Spirit to mortify the member in which the lust doth dwell. Did you lose Christ by neglecting the Scriptures? You must find Christ in the Scriptures. It is a true proverb, "Look for a thing where you dropped it, it is there." So look for Christ where you lost him, for he has not gone away." p. 17

"Bad nursing in their spiritual infancy often causes converts to fall into a despondency from which they never recover and sin in other cases brings broken bones." - pp. 138-139

"Earth should be a temple filled with the songs of grateful saints and every day should be a censor smoking with the sweet incense of thanksgiving."  p. 300.

What I Liked:
  • Spurgeon's wording is poetic at times, rebuking at other times, and the section on Song of Solomon where he describes the relationship between Christ and His church were downright sexy.  Sexy?  Yes.  Not sexy as in dirty, but sexy as in the purest form of intimacy between a beautiful unsullied bride, and the groom who is crazy and tenderly in love with her.
  • These reflections were full of faith.  They made me hungry for the Word.
  • It was hard to read just one entry per day, yet they were so full that I couldn't absorb their entire message in a 24 hour period.
What I didn’t like: 
  • There are quoted passages with no references. 
  • The scripture passages quoted at the beginning of each entry is in a scripted font that makes the chapter and verse numbers hard to read.
To sum up:  I'd heard quotes from Spurgeon, but I'd never read any of his books.  Morning by Morning was an absolute delight to read.  I've already ordered the companion book Evening by Evening for next year's devotional time.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

See You Next Year: The Weekly Hodgepodge

Want to join the party?  Go on over to From This Side of the Pond  for the Hodgepodge link-up!

Share a favorite memory/moment from the week of Christmas.
Christmas week started out very sadly.  My oldest brother, Melvin, passed away and we had his funeral on the 21st.  It wasn't all grieving and sadness though. 
One of the items on my 101 in 1001 list was to be a secret sister/pal for someone for a year.  This was something we did ages ago at my home church and I felt God wanted me to do this for someone at my new church.  Christmas day I revealed my identity to her.  We both enjoyed this year of secrets.  It was fun for her trying to find out who it was and fun for me trying not to give myself away.  That, our beautiful Christmas Eve service, and spending time with a couple of my nieces' and their kids were the highlight of my week.
If someone wrote a book about your life based on the past year, what genre would it fall under? What would the title be?
A horror novel called Aw, Hell Naw! by Steve Harvey.
It would be funny if it weren't so true.  This year was better than last year, but it still been a rough one. 
What made you feel patriotic this year?
Playing patriotic tunes with the Community Band at the Memorial Day weekend concert at the Community Center. 
What experience from this past year would you like to do all over again?
Riding the entire Ladiga Trail on my birthday.  I may do it again for my next birthday.
What song lyric sums up or is a reflection of your 2015?
I'm through with you.  I don't want to be your just for fun.  Don't want to be under your thumb.  All I want to be is DONE.
On a scale of 1-10 how would you rate 2015?  (10=stellar) Why?
I'd give it a 5.  Like I said, it was rough. 
What part of the upcoming year are you most excited about?
Trying again to get it right.  Hopefully new possibilities and opportunities.
Insert your own random thought here.
Happy new year, y'all.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The $30,000 Question: The Simple Woman's Daybook

If you would like to join in and post your own Daybook, please head on over to visit Peggy at The Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today:  Sunday, December 27, 2015

Outside my window …  After days and days of nothing but rain, we had a brief reprieve this weekend before it cranks up again tonight.  A day off from work and no worship team practice gave me a chance to get out on the Jacksonville end of the Ladiga Trail for a nice long walk.  The stream near the train depot was higher and running more briskly than ever.

I am thinking...   about goals for the new year.  Life goals, blogging goals, fitness goals, reading goals, you name it.  I'll get things down on paper this week and most likely start on some of it before the year starts.

I am thankful...  for safety during all the flash flooding we've had here in Alabama.  I'm thankful for the start of a new year.  I'm thankful for improving health and vitality.

From the Workshop...  After my long project, I took a short crafting break. I'll be back to it this week.
I am reading...  I finished Good News of Great Joy by John Piper.  The review is here.  Got just a few more days to finish up a couple of books, then a whole new challenge will start.  I haven't decided what to call it yet, but when I do, I hope you'll join me.
I am looking forward to...  The new year.  It's like a fresh page to write or a blank canvas to paint.  I'm looking forward to the new 5k race season.  None of the dates have been set for the races I'm thinking of doing, but I think my first race will be the Parker Memorial Pancake Run in March.  The next couple of months will be for training and getting my mind right.
And now for something totally different...

I'm often told that I don't sell my art for enough (generally by people who never purchase it).  I suppose now I should add my friendship to the list of things I sell too short.  I've been reading articles and blogs by respected leaders.  I've got great respect for people like Dave Ramsey, John C. Maxwell, and Joyce Meyer.  I'm still having trouble relating to Jon Acuff and because of this, I'm seriously wondering about Michael Hyatt...or maybe I should wonder about myself.  This guy can actually get away with basically selling his friendship for $30,000?  Dang, if I just charged $500 a head for everyone who claims my friendship, I'd be out of debt in no time.  Of course, they wouldn't be my friend for long if it cost them $500, much less $30,000.  Am I missing something?

From 25 Hilarious Tweets from 'Explain a Film Plot Badly' Hashtag.

From Twitter:  @JonAcuff tweeted:  "How do you know you're a student pastor? You're preaching on the Sunday after Christmas."

From Twitter:  @ChrchCurmudgeon tweeted: "If your preschooler sings 'Death Star in the sky looks down where He lay,' you've been talking about Star Wars too much."

From Facebook:  D.Havens shared:

From YouTube:  A New One from the Southern Women Channel:  Warning, this one is a little more risqué than they normally are.


Saturday, December 26, 2015

Auntie's Full Shelf Challenge 20

BookGood News of Great Joy.

Author: John Piper

Info: Copyright 2013.  Minneapolis: Desiring God.

Where acquired: Free download from author.

Rating (on a scale of 1-4 hashtags): # # # #

What it's about:  Piper carries the reader through the Advent season by giving fresh perspective on the familiar Christmas story.

Favorite Quotes:  Note:  Page numbers refer to the PDF version of the book.  The MOBI (Kindle) version only had location numbers.

“The key that unlocks the treasure chest of God’s peace is faith in the promises of God. So Paul prays, ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing’ (Romans 15:13). And when we do trust the promises of God and have joy and peace and love, then God is glorified.” - p. 12

“I feel so strongly that among those of us who have grown up in church and who can recite the great doctrines of our faith in our sleep and who yawn through the Apostles Creed—that among us something must be done to help us once more feel the awe, the fear, the astonishment, the wonder of the Son of God, begotten by the Father from all eternity, reflecting all the glory of  God, being the very image of his person, through whom all things were created, upholding the universe by the word of his power.” - p. 45

“Christ will really help us in our fight. He really will help you. He is on your side. He didn’t come to destroy sin because sin is fun. He came to destroy sin because it is fatal. It is a deceptive work if the devil and will destroy us if we don’t fight it. He came to help us, not hurt us.” - p. 53

What I Liked:

  • The author challenges the reader.  It's not simply, "God is love.  Love is God.  Let's color a picture about it."  The reader is given solid biblical evidence of the first advent of Christ and is challenged to be ready for the second advent of the Messiah.
  • The readings were short, but meditative.
What I didn’t like: 
  • Unlike most Bible based books, this volume does not include a notation of which Bible version is used.
  • Some of the selections tended to be a little repetitive and could have been combined into one entry while some of the additional information could have been included as a daily reading. 
To sum up:  This devotional was very helpful to me since I know next to nothing about Advent.  I plan to use this devotional again to celebrate next year's holiday season.  I would recommend it to a new Christian or a seasoned veteran of the faith.

If you are interested in this book, it is available for free download at 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Marvelous Light: The Simple Woman's Daybook

If you would like to join in and post your own Daybook, please head on over to visit Peggy at The Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today:  Sunday, December 20, 2015

Well, I'm back from a self-imposed hiatus from blogging. There was a lot swilling around in my grey matter, but I just didn't feel up to writing it down. The 31 Days of 5 Minute Freewrites took me to a very dark place that I felt I needed to start working my way out of before I sat at the keyboard to create again.

There's been many happenings the last month, so be warned, this will be a long one. Grab a cup of coffee and sit down for a spell.
Outside my window …  Partly cloudy skies, crisp air with just a tap of coolness and the smell of the neighbors' fire places, and the sound of crunching leaves.

I am thinking...  

Melvin Brewster
...about my oldest brother, Melvin.  He passed away this week.  He was 63.

I'm pondering the coming year.  Many prayers and tears have gone up on my behalf; I don't want anyone to feel like they wasted their time.  I want to set some real goals and meet them.  Not pie in the sky resolutions, but real goals that will guide my life in the right direction.

I'm formulating my reading challenge for 2016.  What do I call it?  What are my reading goals?  How do I get y'all to participate with me? (Yes, that was a hint) 

I'm making decisions on what kinds of art to create in the coming year.  Art based on my photographs and creating Christmas cards tops the list right now.  Also, I want to figure out how I can find out about local craft fairs a little sooner than two weeks after they happen (Hard to participate that way). 

My 101 in 1001 list is on my mind.  I need to update it and get cracking some of the things I've started.

I am thankful...  for hope.  I'm thankful for mentoring and guidance.  I'm thankful for people who care even when I don't.  I'm thankful for the "little" things God does to answer prayers that may seem ridiculous to anyone else.  I'm thankful for my Savior's birth and the freedom to celebrate it.

From the Workshop...

Baby Elephant Hat

Made two of these peppermint afghans.
I am reading...  I finished My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers.  The review is here.  I've got several books in the works and hope I can finish them in the next two weeks.
I am looking forward to... 
  • Our Christmas Eve service.
  • Auntie spending Christmas day with some of her babies.
  • Tomorrow is Winter Solstice, so I'm looking forward to the days starting to get longer.  Have I mentioned how much I loathe the time change?
  • The new year truly being full of new things instead of the same old crap.
  • Reading new books.
  • Getting some sleep.

I am learning

Last week I learned from Pastor Staples that there is another stanza of Hark the Herald Angels Sing:

Come, Desire of nations come,
Fix in us Thy humble home;
Rise, the Woman's conquering Seed,
Bruise in us the Serpent's head.
Adam's likeness now efface:
Stamp Thine image in its place;
Second Adam, from above,
Reinstate us in thy love.
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,
Glory to the Newborn King.

Powerful, isn't it?  Sadly, I've never heard anyone sing it, nor is it included in many hymnals.  It makes me think that we are missing something, no, missing a lot, by either not having all of the lyrics of songs in the hymnal or music book, or by having them in the books but never singing them.

Look, I know I'm still very new to being Baptist, but seems like singing all the lyrics of a song wouldn't throw the service too far into overtime.  Yeah, I can hear some of my Non-Denominational friends wagging their hair weave at me (I can tease, I are one of them too), BUT we've got our own musical sacred cows that need to be slaughtered.  I've seen many a lyric unnecessarily changed.  Not because of something questionable, something with heresy, or something just plain wrong, but because of "confession." 

Here's what I mean.

Many moons (and worship leaders) ago I was told once that we would either change the lyric "I'm sorry Lord for the thing I've made it" in the song Heart of Worship, or we wouldn't sing it at all.  Why?  According to the powers that be, they were "tired of being sorry."

To quote the great Lewis Grizzard:  Do what?

Can I tell y'all a secret?  I've been in some form of music ministry for 28 years, and it is rare that I finish a worship service feeling satisfied.  Out of the thousands (yes, thousands) of services I've participated in, there are maybe 20 that I can say, "Yes, I believe the musicians, singers/choir, Pastor (yes, he counts) and congregation (yes, they count too) were all in tune with the Holy Spirit.  Jesus was duly honored, and everything that was said and done pleased the Father."

Maybe 20.

We are so worried about making a good confession (or in this case impression) that we don't care about honoring God with true, unbridled worship.  Yes, I believe that our words are very important, and making proper scriptural confession is biblical.  However, God "calls the things that be not as though they were," (Romans 4:17) not "call the things that are as though they were not." 

Plus, it's not all about us.  As they say in Celebrate Recovery, "Don't forget the newcomer."  We don't know what others are going through, nor what impact what is sung or preached may have on them.  OK, sermon over...for now.

A favorite quote for today... 

"Both nations and individuals have tried Christianity and abandoned it, because it has been found too difficult; but no man has ever gone through the crisis of deliberately making Jesus Lord and found Him to be a failure." - Oswald Chambers

A few plans for the rest of the week:   Work and rest mostly.

And now for something totally different...

From Twitter:  @JonAcuff tweeted:

Talk I overheard my kids having:

My 12yo: I like NYC! There are so many types of people.

My 10yo: I know! In Nashville we only have hipsters

From Facebook:  D.Havens shared:  "Saw Star Wars last night. Can't believe Jar Jar is Darth Vader's father. Did not see that coming."

From Facebook: 

From Twitter:  @ChrchCurmudgeon tweeted: 

Oh, the weather outside is frightful
But my coffee is so delightful
And since I've no place to go
I'm going to have another cup of coffee

From Facebook: 

From Facebook:  M.Getto shared:

From Facebook: G.Wade shared:


Friday, December 18, 2015

Auntie's Full Shelf Challenge 19

BookMy Utmost for His Highest.

Author: Oswald Chambers

Info: Copyright 1935.  Grand Rapids: Discovery House Publishers.

Where acquired: Borrowed from a friend.

Rating (on a scale of 1-4 hashtags): # 1/2

What it's about:  This is a year's worth of daily devotionals.  Each daily entry features a scripture passage and the author's expounding on the passage.  This volume has been deemed a classic that all Christians should read.  Well, I'm a Christian, so I guess I'm supposed to read it. I made my first attempt more than 20 years ago, but became very frustrated after about 60 days and gave up.  This year, I finished it.

Favorite Quotes

"If we imagine we have to put on our Sunday moods before we come near to God, we will never come near Him. We must come as we are." - p. 136

"At your Bethel you will find yourself at your wits’ end and at the beginning of God’s wisdom. When you get to your wits’ end and feel inclined to succumb to panic, don’t; stand true to God and He will bring His truth out in a way that will make your life a sacrament. Put into practice what you learned with your Elijah, use his cloak and pray. Determine to trust in God and do not look for Elijah any more." - p.  164

"God nowhere holds a man responsible for having the heredity of sin. The condemnation is not that I am born with a heredity of sin, but if when I realize Jesus Christ came to deliver me from it, I refuse to let Him do so, from that moment I begin to get the seal of damnation. “And this is the judgment” (the critical moment) 'that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light.'" - p. 206

"Never be sympathetic with the soul whose case makes you come to the conclusion that God is hard. God is more tender than we can conceive, and every now and again He gives us the chance of being the rugged one that He may be the tender One." - p. 263

What I Liked:
  • Chambers writing style is very intellectual.  In other words, he uses more complex language than other such reading material and one must actually ponder over what was said.  It's is quite understandable, but not an easy read. 
  • The readings were short.
What I didn’t like: 
  • The author is an absolute killjoy and I wonder if he was suffering from manic depression when he wrote it.  Anything that seems the most enjoyable, including our walk with Christ, he scoffs at.  It seems Chambers had forgotten I Timothy 6:17 - "Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy."  Apparently Nehemiah 1:8 - "...for the joy of the Lord is your strength." wasn't in his Bible.  He's also forgotten his own words, "wherever the joy of God is not present, the death sentence is at work." (December 8th reading) By these writings, if he'd had his way, Chambers would prefer all Christians ball in the fetal position in a corner and cry, rather than show any joy.  This book could make you hate God, yourself, and others.
  • Chambers often uses the phrase "give up our rights to ourselves."  What does that even mean?  Plus, he makes God out to be a bully, ready to shame and humiliate His children into obedience. 
  • Many of the scripture passages are taken WAY out of context.  I had many experiences of asking myself, "What did I just read?"  Chambers explanations didn't make them any clearer.
  • There are quoted passages with no reference cited, so we have no way to know where the quote came from.  There are also reference abbreviations that are explained nowhere in the text.
To sum up:  I honestly don't see what all the hype is about this devotional.  That was a year where I could have been reading something more productive, more encouraging, and more faith strengthening (like the other devotional I will finish at the end of this year.  Instead, I spent too much time suffering through most of the entries.  I finally hurried through the last two weeks worth of reflections so I could be done with this mess.